Strada Education Network Names 15 Innovation Grant Winners in $10 Million Beyond Completion Challenge

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Strada Education Network Names 15 Innovation Grant Winners in $10 Million Beyond Completion Challenge

Grant competition in partnership with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity seeks to help students connect learning with employment

INDIANAPOLIS — Strada Education Network announced today the winners in the initial phase of a $10 million grant challenge aimed at helping higher education institutions identify and expand new solutions that will improve career and life opportunities for more students of color, first-generation students, those who struggle to afford education, and adult students and workers.

Strada is partnering with the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity for the Beyond Completion Challenge to reimagine higher education to better serve students’ needs. Strada launched the grant challenge with the understanding that students need an educational experience that connects learning with employment so that all students can secure a good job, do meaningful work, and lead a fulfilling life. 

Each participating institution will develop an initiative on their campus or in collaboration with other organizations, including industry partners, to foster a more effective higher education experience.

The 15 institutions selected to receive innovation grants of up to $250,000 are:

  1. Arizona State University
  2. City University of New York
  3. Georgia State University
  4. Georgia Institute of Technology
  5. New York University
  6. North Carolina A&T State University
  7. Northern Virginia Community College
  8. Southern New Hampshire University
  9. University of Arizona
  10. University of Minnesota Rochester
  11. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  12. University of Oregon
  13. University of Pittsburgh
  14. University of Texas System
  15. Virginia Tech

The grants announced today will support new projects and initiatives that focus on equitable outcomes through and beyond college completion. Strada will provide more than $6 million in additional support later this year to expand upon these grants and will engage in a year-long community of practice with grant recipients and other members of the Taskforce working to improve outcomes beyond completion.

“As we recover from a worldwide pandemic, we understand that our economy and our education system are changing dramatically,” said Strada’s Ruth Watkins. “The good news is that institutions of higher learning are rising to the challenge, and are shifting their focus beyond completion of credentials and degrees. The Beyond Completion Challenge was designed not just to come up with new ideas for how to achieve that goal, but to put resources behind them so that more students can benefit. We were delighted with the quality of the proposals and are thrilled to support this terrific work.”

Today’s Phase One grants were awarded to the 15 institutions to support curricular, career guidance and support, work-based learning, capacity building, and technology innovations. Funded initiatives fall into four categories:

  • Infusing career relevance into the curriculum.
  • Developing strategies to expand career support.
  • Strengthening connections between education and career.
  • Building institutional capacity to improve career outcomes.

Learn more about the innovation grant recipients and their projects here.

James Milliken, chancellor of The University of Texas System, said: “The University of Texas System is honored to be recognized in the Beyond Completion Challenge. This grant will help undergraduate students across the UT System transition into high-value careers by expanding access to micro-credentials that arm students with the skills most valued by Texas employers. Pairing a bachelor’s degree with an industry-recognized credential will give students a competitive edge in the labor market while also enhancing their undergraduate experience.” 

At the University of Arizona, Abra McAndrew, assistant vice president for Access, Engagement & Opportunity, said: “Strada's Beyond Completion Challenge puts resources and support behind one of the issues University of Arizona is most focused on: ensuring that every student gains career-related experience while earning their degree. We know that internships make a difference in the outcomes of first-generation students and we're grateful for this opportunity to enhance our efforts and commitment to equitable outcomes for these students.”

“We’ve seen firsthand how the nature and quality of student engagement has a measurable impact on success and well-being long after graduation,” said Virginia Tech President Tim Sands. “The innovation grant will help us further develop a student experience strategy that is more effective and equitable, and can be shared with other institutions pursuing similar goals.”

In the coming months, all members of the Taskforce will be invited to join the innovation grant recipients in a community of practice to share information and learn what’s working to help students succeed beyond completion.

Later this year, the institutions that are awarded support in Phase One, as well as other Taskforce members, will be invited to compete for additional funding to expand their work. The emphasis in Phase Two will be to reach larger numbers of students or to partner with other institutions or industries to significantly share and expand effective practices.

Learn more about the Taskforce’s work and Strada’s Beyond Completion Challenge here.

Strada will share more information on early insights from initiatives and related projects already in progress during a Public Viewpoint webinar on Jan. 19.


About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people take advantage of education and training after high school that helps them secure a good job, do meaningful work, contribute to their communities, and lead a fulfilling life. We believe education and training after high school have the potential to be the most powerful and equitable ways to help all people thrive in their careers and lives. To help students succeed beyond completion of a certificate or degree, we conduct research, make charitable grants and social impact investments, and support Strada Collaborative, which directly serves students and workers. Learn more at

About the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity

The Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity is a collective of 37 institutions, including 35 higher education presidents and chancellors, representing 2.4 million students across public, private, two-and four-year institutions. To address the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising income inequality, and the changing nature of work, the Taskforce aims to expand higher education's contribution to society by supporting students entering the workforce, partnering with communities, and delivering accessible, applicable, and high-quality education. The Taskforce provides new opportunities to collaborate, share insights, and scale impact across the higher education ecosystem. Learn more at